Myofibrils of rat diaphragm of various ages, in different states of activity, after denervation, and after acetyl choline contracture, were studied by electron microscopy. A comparative study of other rodent diaphragms and of human diaphragm was also made.

Myofibrils from diaphragm are similar to those of other striated muscles. The differentiation into A and I bands is due to differences in the substance present round the actomyosin filaments in those regions. The Z disk is extra-sarcomere; it-appears even before any differentiation of the fibril into A and I bands is recognizable. At the age of about 42 days, the myofibrils in rat diaphragm are completely differentiated and conform tothe adult type. The sarcomere length in adult rat diaphragm is between 2 and 3 µ.

The adult rat diaphragm contains two types of fibrils which differ, though not sharply, in their extensibility and thickness.

The A and I bands react differently to a variety of stimuli. Thus, passive stretching affects the I band almost exclusively, while contraction affects both bands; here, again, the effect depends on the type of contraction; isotonic contraction shortens both A and I, whereas isometric contraction shortens A and lengthens I. In the denervated muscle the A band is shortened. On thewhole, the A band seems to play the major role in contraction.

The H disk is intra-sarcomere and appears during contraction, especially when the muscle is stimulated in the stretched state. The M and N lines also are intra-sarcomere. Evidence regarding their nature and appearance is discussed.

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